Skip to main content

#Pointergate: Who coined this week's most famous hashtag?

  • Author:
  • Updated:

That right there is the first tweet to ever use the hashtag #pointergate – the pound-sign prefixed term that has come to represent all of the public outcry and criticism of a KSTP report claiming Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges flashed a gang sign.

Since then, #pointergate has been used in countless tweets and numerous national headlines. On Nov. 7, the night the report aired, the hashtag quickly vaulted up the trending rankings to No. 1 in Minneapolis, and No. 2 in the country. More than a week later, it was once again the top trending topic Friday in the Twin Cities.

"I just happened to be the first to get the tweet out," Javier Morillo – whose tweet you see above – told BringMeTheNews.

Morillo – president of SEIU Local 26, co-host of a local political podcast and longtime Twin Cities activist – was the first person to get the hashtag out there. But he wasn't the one to think it up.

It came from David Brauer, the longtime local columnist, who said his immediate reaction to the KSTP report was simply, "POINTERGATE."

"The thing that struck me when I heard it was it was all about pointing a finger!" Brauer told BringMeTheNews in a message. "It seemed so ridiculous!"

Morillo heard the term through another party and jumped on it, tweeting at 10:06 p.m. – within minutes of KSTP's report airing. (Morillo even got a congratulatory tweet letting him know it was the first.) Brauer was just behind, sending his out at 10:18 p.m.

Morillo says he knew the story was going to air beforehand, and wasn't sure if something like a hashtag about it might blow up. But ...

"When i saw the story i was like, 'Oh wow, this is going to be big,'” he said.

So 10:06 p.m. hit, and #pointergate was officially out there, for anyone to do what they wanted with.

And oh, people did things with it.

In addition to the criticisms directed at KSTP and the reporter, Jay Kolls, users quickly turned it into a meme.

This embed is invalid

Morillo touched base with Anthony Newby, the executive director of Nerighborhoods Organizing for Change, about using the hashtag as an unofficial signifier. But the way it took off was completely out of their hands.

"So much of what happened then is just purely organic. … You just can’t plan that stuff," Morillo said.

So the tweets with celebrities, regular folk and their extended fingers?

"All that was just the wisdom of the crowd," Morillo said.

Next Up

Winter scene snow storm snowfall highway driving traffic - Joe Nelson Feb 2022 4

Winter storm warning for Twin Cities: 6+ inches possible

The heaviest snow could move through the Twin Cities.

police lights

Carver man charged after standoff with police in Prior Lake

The man had been fleeing from police when he allegedly broke into a home and the standoff ensued.


41-year-old Sherburne County man killed after crashing car into ditch

The crash occurred Sunday night in Palmer Township.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 4.01.10 PM

Around 200 rescued after ice breaks free on Upper Red Lake

Red Lake — both Upper and Lower — is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.


Charges: Drunk driver almost struck Bemidji parade spectators

The man told police he was trying to attend the parade himself.


The SCHEELS Experience

Whether looking for reliable hunting and fishing gear or new clothing and shoes, Eden Prairie SCHEELS is a one-stop shopping experience for the whole family.


Charges: Man fatally shot ex's new partner as he dined at Bloomington restaurant

Criminal charges filed Monday detail an alleged motive in the shooting.


Metallica to perform 2 nights in Minneapolis on 2023-24 World Tour

The heavy metal rock band returns to the state for the first time since 2018.

snow, plow

Tuesday storm to dump plowable snow in Minnesota

Snow should reach the Twin Cities Tuesday morning and fall throughout the day.